4 Big Ways to Give Back, While Boosting Your Personal Brand

There’s something pretty great about giving to those around you in need. Getting knee-deep with fellow do-gooders in a cause larger than yourself can score major feel-good vibes. And while giving back to your community is a rewarding and worthwhile pursuit in itself, an added bonus is that investing your time, money, or expertise in your local community can be a powerful way to build relationships and enhance your personal brand. Because you can help others while helping yourself.

To get started, first determine what you’re trying to achieve and focus your efforts on that. For example, do you want to help increase access to technology in parts of the world that need it most? Or maybe you really want to help aspiring female small business owners in underserved areas get a jump-start on their entrepreneurial pursuits. Think about the message you want to send regarding your passions, and the ways of contributing that can best express it.

Because SoFi’s in your corner, we want to share some examples of how you can give back while building your personal brand:

1. Volunteer to show passion. You’ve likely heard the saying, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” Volunteers know this to be true. Carving out time for altruistic acts will help you rise above your day-to-day concerns and give you a greater sense of purpose. And, when your resume and LinkedIn profile include those volunteer experiences, hiring managers can glean insights into your character and passions, and that can help you rise above fellow job applicants.

In fact, Deloitte’s 2016 Impact Survey results reveal that while only 30% of resumes seen by people who influence or make hiring decisions include volunteer experience, 80% of those people feel that volunteers move into leadership roles more easily. On top of that, 82% are more likely to hire a candidate with volunteer experience, and 73% believe that people who volunteer are more successful.

2. Share your expertise to highlight skills. Skills-based volunteering, which is the offering of talent, experience, or resources, can cultivate your leadership skills and position you as someone with resilience and grit. It will also show managers that you’re capable of taking on new challenges and willing to solve tough problems.

While sharing skills locally will help people in your own backyard, sharing overseas can provide you with an entirely new perspective on emerging countries and give you a lift at work. In fact, the 2015 CISL Impact Benchmark Study finds that 66% of employees who participated in Corporate International Service Learning (CISL) programs moved to more senior roles after returning from their volunteerships. So, if you’re a civil engineer, volunteering in Ghana on a clean water project, for example, could demonstrate how well you adapt to new environments, work on a team, and tackle a complex issue with a bigger picture in mind.

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Sharing your expertise can also be a great way to engage your online community, expand your reach, and increase your visibility. For instance, if you own a tech startup, you can teach a workshop to teens on how to gamify their seedling ideas and turn them into projects. Your creative efforts will increase brand awareness and show your gung-ho spirit.

If you’re a lawyer, organize a drive or campaign at work. For instance, rally the efforts of your colleagues to offer a roundtable consulting session pro bono to local charities, or persuade pet-loving peers to lead a drive for much-needed supplies at a local no-kill animal shelter. Taking charge in ways like these on the job will exhibit your initiative and commitment, and help you make less forced and deeper connections with higher-ups and colleagues.

3. Make charitable donations that align with your personal mission statement. If you’re too busy to carve out time to volunteer, make a monetary donation to your favorite non-profit instead. Putting money where your mouth is reveals your commitment to a cause and shows that, despite being busy, giving back still ranks high on your list of priorities.

If your passions are many and you have trouble selecting the charitable organization that best aligns with your personal mission statement, narrow your choices by doing a search on sites such as Idealist.org or Charity Navigator. If you’re not quite sure where to start, ask yourself a couple of questions: What are the most pressing problems in the world I want to help solve? Where can my money be best put to use and be in step with my values? Then choose the charity that squares best with your answers.

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4. Donate items you no longer need. Been on a Marie Kondo-style decluttering kick and have a pile of stuff you’re itching to get rid of? Instead of dropping them off at the nearest donation center, take the time to find a charity that not only accepts the goods you have to offer, but also resonates most with what’s important to you.

While you may think that most organizations would prefer a monetary donation in lieu of physical goods, there are some really great charities making a difference by repurposing your throwaway items in unexpected ways. For instance, the Lifecell Project recycles old cell phones for money, and uses the earnings to purchase water filtration systems for those around the world that lack access to clean water.

Your commitment to social good, while extremely valuable to your community, can also benefit your career. By syncing up your charitable efforts with your personal brand, you’ll have a more robust and powerful way to communicate to the world what you’re all about. Learn more about the ways SoFi’s Career Coaching Team helps our members and is committed to their success.

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